Teaching History Differently: The Zinn Education Project

History is often told from the winner’s point of view, neglecting many different populations of people who have histories of their own. In the context of US History, the story told has been dominated by White men leaving other stories untold in a public school setting. Paulo Friere in his work Pedagogy of the Oppressed states the importance of teaching history as “a means of understanding more clearly what and who [a people] are so that they can more wisely build the future” (Friere 84). How can today’s students wisely build the future if only one narrative is being told?

The Zinn Education Project, Teaching A People’s History, attempts to break the White male dominated narrative by offering curriculum that emphasizes the roles of minorities like the working class, people of color, and women along with organized social movements. The Project was initiated by a Boston University journalism student, William Holtzman who wanted to further Howard Zinn’s work. Zinn is famous for his civil disobedience and non-violent activism specifically during the 1960s. He has authored many books, but perhaps his most famous work is A People’s History, which portrays US History from a minority perspective. Holtzman worked with Zinn and in conjunction with two non-profits advocating for social justice related curriculum: Teaching for Change and Rethinking Schools.

  • How to use this resource: The Project offers different teaching materials by time period, theme, or resource type for free. Teachers of any age group could go on the website, register, and pick an activity or article to download for a specific time period. In addition to planning the activities corresponding to what students are currently learning, a class set of A People’s History of The United States and Voices of A People’s History of The United States would help round out the activities with readings and references from the textbooks. Activities do not indicate how long to plan for, but some of them are very extensive. For example, the role play activity on the origins of modern high schools could take three class periods. Time for the lesson would depend on preparation, an activity, and a debriefing. A pedagogy that would strengthen this curriculum would be one where the teacher guides students with questions–problem-posing. This would allow the students to maximize the activities and articles by letting them do the questioning and discovery with the help of the teacher to guide them.
  • Goal– This resource supports peace education by offering a change in perspective from the status quo helping learners become more culturally proficient in diversity. Teaching students about different peoples’ histories and narratives could open their minds and change their world views. The knowledge of minorities and mass protests could inspire questioning and critical analysis of the current system, making them well-informed global citizens who challenge popular opinion and decisions by looking deeper.
  • Audience- Two stakeholders who could benefit from this program are Social Studies and History teachers for any age group and students of any age interested in different historical perspectives. This information is by no means limited to these two large groups of people; anyone can benefit from re-examining history from a different perspective. Any person who has taken US History should take a look at atleast Zinn’s two works listed above for a more accurate portrayal of how the US has developed. The only difficulty in implementing this change in a curriculum would be standardized testing as the things they are looking for students to know do not necessarily align with this particular version of the US History narrative.

Embodied Listening: Engaging Students to Build The Peace Process Through Their Own Self-Reflection

Content: Embodied Listening is an intensive communication activity developed by Dr. Chris McRae, a performance studies professor in the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida- Tampa. It was originally published in Listening Communication Journal in 2012. Using basic performative techniques, Embodied Listening has a two-fold effect on its participants: first, it teaches active listening to students; and second: it opens up opportunities for dialogue and interpersonal communication between participants.

Context: This activity is applicable for students at the primary, secondary, and undergraduate levels. However, it should be noted that the level of intensity must be applicable to the age of the students. It gives participants opportunities for gaining awareness of their bodies during the active listening process, the generation and utilization of descriptive language, teaches students to accept the power of the listening process, with an end goal of accepting listening as a practice that can shape experience. Through this, a sense of empathy is cultivated, teaching students to respect the opinions and narratives of others.

Implementation: Listening is itself an embodied and imperative act of communication. Embodied Listening teaches participants the importance of active listening through an experiential and performative lens. Essentially, participants are asked to consider how their bodies react and feel during the listening experience. In addition, it teaches students the importance of using descriptive language to describe their experiences with active listening.


Stage One/Preparation (3-5 minutes): The instructor should begin with a short dialogue about what the participants think about the act of listening and/or being an audience member. The activity leader should create an open space within the classroom. Furniture such as chairs, desks and tables should not prohibit the opportunities for students to move.

Stage Two/Body Awareness (2-3 minutes): The instructor will then ask the participants to move around the room, encouraging the students to “fill the space” (McRae 16). Carefully ensure they don’t follow each other in a line. As the participants move about the room, ask them to think about their bodies: the way they place their feet on the ground; the way they use their hands; to be aware of their posture.

Stage Three/Exploring Listening (3-5 minutes): The instructor will then inform the students listening will be explored by stimulating reactions to common sounds. The participants will “freeze” after hearing the prompt (e.g.: “Freeze as if you hear a dog bark”; “Freeze as if you hear an alarm going off”; “Freeze as if you hear glass breaking”). After each prompt is given, the instructor will ask the participants to notice their posture, tension, hand/arm placement, etc. After each moment, the instructor will choose one student to “tap out”. The “tapped out” student will go around the room and tell the instructor what they see in terms of the other participants’ body language and other forms of non-verbal communication. Then the instructor should ask the student what they felt when they were “frozen” compared to what they see. The instructor should clarify before they begin this portion of the activity that if a student feels uncomfortable at any point within this part of the activity, they are welcome to step out and observe.

Stage Four/Dialogue and Debriefing (10-15 minutes): The final stage ends with a dialogue between the instructor and the participants. The dialogue should be open with emphasis placed on the participants’ responses and the instructor facilitating.

Goals: From this activity, students should comprehend an innate awareness of their embodiment during the active listening process. The experimental aspect asks students to reflect on prior knowledge about listening in order to build upon their pre-existing foundations. Empathy and active listening are crucial to the dialogue process when it is chosen to be implemented in conflict resolution. By fostering a stronger sense of these two elements, the peace process will be stronger and listening will become a more omnipresent force.

Audience: Because this activity is so applicable and can fit a multitude of populations, Embodied Listening can be used in a variety of academic settings. However, middle school (grades 6-8) students and secondary (grades 9-12) students may be the most absorbent groups for this activity. Students in Fairfax City Public Schools could easily implement this into any sort of advisory programs. Peace education can only be effective when active listening and empathy are mastered. Using embodied listening can help to originate establishing this.

PeaceJam: Nobel Laureates Educating and Mentoring The Youth to Benefit the Worl

The PeaceJam program was created in 1996 in an attempt to teach peace to children through interactions and lessons provided by Nobel Laureates, as stated by their website. Their mission statement is “to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody” (PeaceJam).

Offered to kids between the ages of 5 and 25, PeaceJam is removed from the traditional classroom setting and utilizes a mix of work-shopping and lecture discussions. PeaceJam’s curriculum is equivalent to educational standards and it aligns with their One Billion Acts of Peace project which fosters peaceful developments globally, and their Global Call to Action campaign which targets the ten most important issues that impact human survival. In this, they build modern technological skills, anti-bullying strategies, concepts of global citizenship, and active community involvement. Through nurturing these leadership skills and character developments, they are enabling the individual to initiate positive growth within themselves and their communities.

The PeaceJam method has a three pronged approach: educate, inspire, and act. Their education program implements 4 different, specified curriculum based on age and 1 directed towards at-risk youth. For the 5-11 age group, PeaceJam Juniors, they learn about the lives, actions, and precedent of the 13 Nobel Laureates, while the 11-14 group, PeaceJam Leaders, addresses the same key people but with a focus on their teenage development. The 14-18 group, PeaceJam Ambassadors, study the fields of peace and violence, the multifaceted nature of identity, as well as learning and discussing with select Laureates. The PeaceJam Juvenile Justice Program builds civil responsibility and reconciliation while allowing them to utilize peace to alter the course of their lives. The final program, PeaceJam Scholars, is designed for college students to learn the skills of mentorship  while also addressing the international effort of the Laureates. The Inspiration branch is aimed towards the empowerment of youth through the impressive activity of the Nobel Laureates in their personal lives and within the program. The process of mentorship can be seen through their designed curriculum, their conferences, the ability to establish connected classrooms, and the Nobel Legacy Film series, which documents the life and work of a select Laureate each year. The last segment of action operates simultaneously with their One Billion Acts of Peace initiative and the 10 Global Calls to Action. Their 4 step program begins with understanding the 10 prominent issues that need to be addressed, then by providing past examples from both Laureates and PeaceJam members, they generate models for project ideas, next you can draft and create a project based on PeaceJam’s curriculum, and finally you can log your project so others can monitor your developments.

Materials and time needed:
The large amount of resources for these events is encompassed by the organizational structure and the man-power needed to gather students, accommodate the Laureates, secure a place to hold the event, as well as the transportation. Additionally, because these are large events, financial resources are also a factor, Aside from travel, the price is $175 for individuals such as educators and there are group rates for schools and NGOs. In order to implement this curriculum outside of the event, there are training programs that be taken online or in-person to be certified in the PeaceJam approach. To implement the PeaceJam method outside of the actual events, schools have begun PeaceJam clubs and have been setting up connected classrooms to allow for this exposure on a more concentrated scale. The most essential resource that can be gained is the curriculum that PeaceJam uses because it can be retrofitted to different classroom sizes and different age groups while simultaneously emphasizing the need for peace. The curriculum blends the approaches of education, inspiration, and action through the main topics of the main curriculum, Nobel Laureate chapters, and Global Call to Action projects. The time, as outlined in the Ambassador program curriculum, is a 15 week full semester of 45 hours of classroom meetings, outside research, and development projects.

Pedagogies used/ ways to implement this resource
The curriculum is taught through a combination of classroom education, self- developments and exploration, group exercises, and real-world examples. There are four major tenants within the curriculum: get inspired, educate yourself, take action, take it further. Within these, there is a focus on motivations, models, and wisdom of the Laureates, educational concepts and 21st century skills, community service, and extensions of the learning. As the student progresses through the education, these themes will be applied to the chapters that they cover. These chapters include exploring identity, defining privilege and power, human rights, and developments in both peace and violence. Teachers are encouraged to allow the students to have a voice and to interact, to create a safe space with the classroom, to facilitate both group and service-learning projects, and to educate the students on how to monitor their own personal growth.

So far, over 1 million youth have participated in PeaceJam events and hundreds of conferences with Nobel Laureates have been hosted. Additionally, over 2 million service projects have been constructed out of the PeaceJam program in accordance to their projected peace goals. There have been markers of growth in both academic skills and involvement in school and the community by the participants, demonstrating the long-lasting effects that PeaceJam offers. Additionally, there have been a decrease in violence in schools that have implements the PeaceJam model.

Due to the wide range of age groups that are addressed through the PeaceJam curriculum, that is a vast applicability in both schools and communities. I believe that community centers would be a great resource because the training and curriculum is accessible and the lessons can be addressed to children of all ages, while also allowing for adults in the community to gain training in facilitation and possible mentorship. The service- learning component is an added, mutual benefit because not only will they be more mindful in their approaches towards each other and towards peace, but their community will have the potential to thrive. Another audience that can thrive is school students, especially high school students. If a national chapter, or even head state chapter, is created to implement PeaceJam into either the standardized curriculum or the after school clubs, the effect will permeate into their studies and developments as individuals. High school students are the targeted audience because if they gain the proper training, they can act as facilitators to younger students in other grades, as well as active members in their communities.

Peaceful Communities for All: An Early Childhood Unit

Peaceful Communities for All: An Early Childhood Unit

This resource (obtained from teachunicef.org) provides a lesson framework developed by Elizabeth Craford, P.h.D and Dana Shelit, M.A. (University of North Carolina Wilmington) for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


The framework is divided into four separate lessons meant to be utilized in the education of children in preschool through second grade.


Incorporation by educators: As the framework lays a basis for individual development and identity, geographic and spatial awareness, understanding of global connections, and cultural understanding and awareness, educators would most likely experience success in incorporating the lesson outlines and activities within their social studies curriculums

Materials and time needed:

The framework has been broken down into four separate lesson plans; however, the foundation for the program is the development of a “Peaceful Place,” which is meant to foster contemplation, rest and resolution by children engaged. The creation of the “Peaceful Place” is, naturally, dependent on available materials or resources, the structure and nature of the local community, and the learning environment. To create the “Peaceful Place,” educators must have access to a quiet and somewhat secluded area that would afford children with the opportunity to experience a sense of peace or tranquility, and one that is spacious enough to accommodate a peace table where conflicts can be resolved; a place where children are able to seek refuge in the face of turmoil, or regain composure after becoming distraught. The area should be a comfortable area that reflects the importance of peacefulness and openness so that children are able to feel comfortable in identifying and communicating their emotions, resolve intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts, and find inner peace or calmness. It is important for the “Peaceful Place” to be utilized as a space for self-reflection and identification, and never as a punishment, or “time-out.” To allow for cooperation and a sense of ownership by the children, it would be useful to engage them in the design of the “Peaceful Place”, and allow for an hour or class period to be devoted to implementing the lessons within the “Peaceful Place” at least once a week, or more preferably twice (or more) weekly.

In addition to the development of the “Peaceful Place”, each lesson further incorporates the use of additional materials as listed below:

  • Lesson One: A place of Peacefulness in Me; picture books that outline concepts of peace and self-awareness, as well as maps to develop geographic and special awareness
  • Lesson Two: Celebrating All of Us; picture books or works of art that embody the concepts of diversity and peace, as well as other books related to the same concepts.
  • Lesson Three: Peacefulness in the Places We Live; materials that would allow for the creation of a “café chat” area, and picture books or other materials that cover conflict resolution.
  • Lesson Four: Peacefulness makes a Better World; books, photographs or artwork that portrays individuals or organizations that work for the creation of a peaceful global community.

Pedagogies used/ ways to implement this resource:

This particular framework appears to incorporate the use of classroom instruction and informed learning, as well as active learning and peer led discussions. For instance, classroom instruction and informed learning is used when the “Peaceful Place” is introduced to children, concepts of personal peace are explained, utilization of the various books required for each lesson, and discussions explaining the origin of peace within individuals. While active learning as well as peer-led discussions take place during the brain-storming of descriptive words related to the concept of peacefulness, the creation of murals or paintings for the “Peaceful place”, encouraging the creation of comparisons about peace, and discussions of symbols related to peace.


The “Peaceful Communities for All” framework was built in an effort to allow children to develop trusting relationships, as well as confidence, self-awareness, autonomy, creativity, initiative and positive self-esteem. The program was designed to engage children, allowing them the opportunity to actively consider how they are able to contribute towards the creation and sustainability of peaceful communities, while also fostering respect for diversity and development of global awareness. It is this understanding and development is seen as the foundation of global citizenship. Ultimately, the framework sets forth the building blocks for children to learn how to be peaceful, rather than teach them about peace, since the concept must originate within oneself in order to be extended to local and global communities.

Week 7 – Peace Learner Commitment (Summer 2013)

Thich Nhat Hanh Peace In Oneself Peace In The WorldThis is the final week of the course and its one where we will spend much time reviewing what’s been covered over these past six weeks and reflecting on what’s resonated with us most strongly. Listen to the podcast below to hear my take-aways from last week’s final forum and to introduce this week’s concluding exercise.

This week we focus on what knowledge, skills, and attitudes we have gained throughout the course and how you plan to implement these learnings into your personal or professional practice.

Your peace learner commitment is a pledge to yourself, and shared with our community, to achieve a goal that seeks to build and foster peaceable learning environments.  This environment can be built in the classroom, your community, among your peers, with your family, in the work place, or for yourself.  The choice is yours.

The key is for an element of this course that resonated with you – skill, content, activity, attitude, technique, perspective, etc. – to bear fruit outside of the online space and time we shared this semester.

To help you in developing and honoring your commitment, I invite you to do three things:

(1)  Review all of your responses to the reflection questions that have been a part of each of the online learning modules. This will help you recall everything we have covered throughout the semester and hopefully trigger aspects of the course that resonated with you.

(2)  Develop and write up your peace learner commitment by first responding to a series of questions (outlined below) that call upon your experiences from the class, and second, guide you through the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework. This will help you formulate a specific goal and a plan to achieve it.  It will also provide our learning community with a mission to keep in touch with you once this class is over and check in on the progress of your commitment.

(3)  Participate in our final all class conference call on Friday, August 16th, where you will have an opportunity to vocalize your peace learner commitment to the rest of the class – why this goal, how you plan to achieve it, and what kind of support, if any, you may need. The conference call will be recorded and then be made available everyone through the PeaceLearner.org website.

Interested in hearing peace learner commitments from a previous class? Check out this post from Fall 2012.

Continue reading for to see the full set of guidelines for developing your peace learner commitment.

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Week 6 – Yoga and Mindfulness (Summer 2013)


This week we explore yoga and mindfulness for the classroom and self-care. But before you jump in to this week’s readings and videos, be sure to check out the savoring beauty photo gallery.

The learning objectives of this module are that you will be able to:

  • Explore the use of meditation in schools and learning environments
  • List benefits of meditation and yoga for learners
  • Experiment with yoga and meditation practices for self-care
  • Develop a meditation or yoga routine for yourself or your community or learners

Key ideas and terms from this module are: meditation, yoga, conscious breathing, self-care

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (Peace Is Every Step)
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, August 9th
  • Contribute to forum 6.1 by Sunday, August 10th @ 12:00pm

Continue reading to see the full outline of this week’s assignments…

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Week 5 – Environmental Sustainability (Summer 2013)


I am continuing with the podcast this week as my video editing software continues to give me problems. Click on the link below to listen and jump into week 5.

This week we explore the Earth Charter and the various ways in which its principles can be and have been integrated into classrooms and communities. This week also focuses on how to use the outdoors as a learning environment and integrate elements of the natural world into the learning space as a way to understand environmental systems and issues such as the materials economy, climate change, and conservation.

The learning objectives for this week are for you to be able to:

  • Identify ways in which the principles of the Earth Charter are being actualized around the world
  • Calculate your carbon footprint
  • Evaluate different environmental sustainability curricula and lesson plans
  • Think creatively about adapting environmental education curricula for one’s own educational context

Key ideas and terms from this module are: materials economy, Earth Charter, carbon footprint, sustainability

The exercises for this week are:

  • Daily peace actions (Being Present in Beauty)
  • Crowd-sourced, digital photo gallery
  • Talk with your learning partner over the phone by Saturday, August 3rd
  • Contribute to forum 5.1 by Sunday, August 4th @ 12:00pm

Continue reading to see the full outline of this week’s assignments. Continue reading